The Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) said in a statement on Thursday that it has detected three cases involving the use of false documents to apply for residency through the government’s qualified investment scheme.
According to the statement, one of the applicants registered his relative’s flat in his own name some years ago and applied to the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) for temporary residency. The statement said that a CCAC investigation discovered that the flat was purchased by the applicant’s relative. The statement added that in order to protect the legal interests of the applicant’s relative, the former signed an irrevocable power of attorney benefitting the latter. After the applicant had obtained permanent residency status, the relative sold the flat immediately.
According to the statement, the other case involved the purchase of two flats when applying for temporary residency through IPIM’s residency-by-investment scheme some years ago. The statement said that CCAC officers discovered that the two flats were owned by the applicant’s relative all along and that the relative was living in one of the flats. The statement added that the applicant then transferred the ownership of one of the flats back to his relative who put the other flat up for sale and had also benefitted from an irrevocable power of attorney signed by the applicant.
According to the statement, the third case concerns a mainlander suspected of having obtained residency in Macao by providing fake academic records during his application process for temporary residency by investing in real estate. CCAC officers discovered that the applicant’s academic records were false because he did not attend or graduate from secondary school as he had claimed.
The statement noted that the three applicants face charges of document forgery under the Law on Illegal Immigration and Deportation. According to the statement, the three cases have been transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP).
Meanwhile, IPIM President Benson Lau Wai Meng told reporters on Thursday that his institute was not tasked with investigating documents submitted by applicants but merely to process them.
Lau made the remarks in response to the CCAC report on the sidelines of the 25th Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF), Macao Franchise Expo 2020 (MFE) and 2020 Portuguese Speaking Countries Products and Services Exhibition (PLPEX) at The Venetian in Cotai.
Lau also said that even though the three applicants had already obtained their residency rights, they still needed to face consequences what they have done. He stressed that his institute had followed standard procedures to verify the documents but if the applicants lied about their backgrounds or properties, it would have been hard to find out.
Lau said that IPIM would reflect on the three cases and improve its application procedures.
Thursday’s CCAC announcement came after former IPIM president Cheong Chou Weng, also known as Jackson Chang and ex-IPIM executive board member Glória Batalha Ung were sentenced on 9 September to two years and one year and nine months in prison respectively, Cheong for breach of secrecy and irregularities in his income declaration, and Batalha Ung for breach of secrecy and abuse of power. The trial involved 26 defendants in a residency-by-investment scam. Cheong and Batalha Ung have both appealed their prison terms. One of the defendants, a local businessman, and his wife were sentenced in absentia to 18 years and 12 years behind bars respectively.